The third in The Hideaway's Summer In Stereo guest posts comes from award-winning author Mark aka the soft rock kid, proprietor of The CD Project and 1976-1985: My Favorite Decade. So, without further adieu, herrrrrre's Mark:
That summer I turned 22. I decided to stay in my small college town and take a few summer classes instead of heading home to stay with my parents in San Antonio. I remember taking French and technology classes, but just barely. I lived in a house with no air conditioning (and this is Texas, folks) and a roommate whose cats crapped everywhere and he couldn’t be bothered to clean it up. I worked in a textbook warehouse (no a/c there, either) for minimum wage. I had broken up with my girlfriend of three years and had started dating a 19 year old girl who was, er.... uh..., well let’s just call her eccentric. In my defense, she did have a sweet convertible. From here on, I’ll refer to her as the B from D.
I was on schedule to do my student teaching that fall in the Dallas area and graduate college in December. I had decided to move to Virginia after graduation for graduate school to pursue a degree that was unique in that it involved the cooperation of two schools in Richmond. The only problem with that plan was that the advisor at one of the schools told me I wasn’t really prepared to enter the program, but they’d consider admitting me on a probationary basis. In addition, the program wasn’t working as well as they had hoped and they would be suspending it in the near future. Did I listen to that advice? You know I didn’t – I was heading to Richmond on a new adventure! In fact, the B from D was talking about transferring to one of the universities in Richmond and finishing her degree there (I think she was a psych major? Sociology maybe?). Does any of that sound like good planning to you?
The B from D and I bonded over music. She had me as soon as I saw her pull out a cassette of Bill Nelson’s The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart) and shove it in her convertible’s deck (Despite my constant pleading, I was never allowed to drive the convertible. That shoulda told me all I needed to know, right there.). That summer, however, there was a big problem: while I was still at college, she had returned home and was living with her folks while working for her dad. That meant that almost all my book warehouse earnings went toward maintaining the relationship with the B from D: long distance phone bills for nightly calls (I always called her so the charges were mine), gas for weekend trips to see her (I always travelled there, she never came to see me), paying for the dates once I was there (didn’t she have a job, too?) and purchasing lots of tapes and CDs to support my music habit.
The icing on the sh*tcake was the fact that the B from D loved to argue and fight. Her idea of a fun night was to leave a party in a huff because I talked to somebody other than her. I would follow her out, apologize even though I did nothing wrong, and then we’d have to talk. All night. I’m exhausted even thinking about it. I know what you’re thinking – “Mark, you must have been head over heels about this girl to put up with that sort of abuse.” Actually, no. During those months, I cheated on her with no fewer than 4 girls. I’m not proud of that fact, but I offer it here to illustrate my own level of commitment to the relationship. Obviously, a relationship like the one I’ve described is destined to self-destruct and, on a hot Texas night in August, I followed her out of a party and instead of apologizing, simply said, “I can’t do this anymore” and went home alone to my hot, humid house. It shouldn’t surprise you that she didn’t even try to get back together with me.
So here’s the songs that remind me of that summer (in alphabetical order):
- Airhead – Thomas Dolby, #6 Dance. I had two copies of the Aliens Ate My Buick cassette that summer because my first copy was stolen from my ‘85 Oldsmobile Firenza. That cassette got a lot of playing time as I was on the road quite a bit that summer.
- Another Lover – Giant Steps, #13 Pop, #25 AC, #10 Dance. Saw this video on MTV and was hooked from the get-go. Bought the cassette, Book of Pride, and enjoyed the dance music throughout the hot months.
- Beat Dis – Bomb the Bass, #1 Dance. The B from D and I would go dancing and this was one of the top club songs from the summer. Someone had the cassingle; I can’t remember who.
- Chains of Love – Erasure, #12 Pop, #4 Dance, #22 Rock. The B from D had a cassette of The Innocents and would play it in her car. She’d haul me around from place to place (I vaguely recall a trip to Fort Worth to see Shakespeare in the Park) and we’d sing along with Erasure.
- Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin, #1 Pop, #7 AC, #11 R&B. Because you couldn’t get away from this one. I put it in the same category of ubiquity as The Beach Boys’Kokomo from the movie Cocktail (which I saw at the cinema with the B from D).
- Fast Car – Tracy Chapman, #6 Pop, #7 AC, #19 Rock. Part of my warehouse job included driving vans full of textbooks across the state. I had borrowed Chapman’s self-titled CD from my fraternity big brother, John, and listened to it early morning as I prepared to embark on a long journey (at least the vans had a/c).
- House We Used To Live In – The Smithereens, #14 Rock. Saw the video on MTV and, to me, it sounded like REM meets The Beatles, so I bought the Green Thoughts cassette and was an instant Smithereens fan. I liked ‘em so much that I remained a fan even after I broke up with the B from D.
- Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything) – The Dead Milkmen. The B from D loved this song, never picking up on the irony that the person being described in the lyrics was her.
- New Sensation – INXS, #3 Pop, #11 Dance, #8 Rock. I listened to the crap out of the Kick album throughout 1988. It’s the perfect merger of dance music and rock music and the group’s best album.
- Piano in the Dark – Brenda Russell, #6 Pop, #3 AC, #8 R&B. Another one discovered through its video. This song sounds as fantastic today as it did in ‘88. The B from D hated it, so this one’s all mine. When Russell takes off in the chorus, she takes me with her. Spectacular.
- Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard, #2 Pop, #25 Rock. My favorite Def Leppard song. Loved the women and energy in the video and listened to the song as much as any other that summer. This one still finds a way onto all my summer/poolside playlists. The B from D promised me Def Leppard concert tickets for my birthday that summer. Of course, that didn’t happen and she ended up giving me goth-ish clothes that she thought I should be wearing.
- Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls – Book of Love, #90 Pop, #5 Dance. More of the dance music that the B from D favored. She really liked the album version of this track that incorporated Tubular Bells.
- Pump Up the Volume – M/A/R/R/S, #13 Pop, #1 Dance, #8 R&B. Another dance number that always reminded me of Beat Dis. This one was also included in the stellar soundtrack to Bright Lights Big City, which I saw with the B from D. The movie was just okay (nothing with Phoebe Cates in it can be all bad), but it did lead me to the writing of Jay McInerney, so something good came from it.
- Roll With It – Steve Winwood, #1 Pop, #1 AC, #21 Dance, #30 R&B, #1 Rock. The biggest hit of the summer? Probably. This sixties R&B throwback reminds me of a trip to the beach with the B from D. I remember the occasional fight from that trip, but for the most part, it was one of the highlights of the summer. For some reason, the Chicago songBeginnings reminds me of that beach trip, too.
- Route 66 – Depeche Mode, #61 Pop, #3 Dance. I was already familiar with this song (probably from the Manhattan Transfer version), so when I heard this version at a club, I flipped for it.
- Simply Irresistible – Robert Palmer, #2 Pop, #1 Rock. The purchase of any Robert Palmer album was a given and Heavy Nova was no exception. This song reminds me of a trip to a Texas Rangers game in Arlington that summer.
- Static – James Brown, #5 Dance, #5 R&B. In what I can only assume was an act of pity, the parents of the B from D would occasionally hire me to paint bedrooms in their house. I remember this song playing on the boombox as I painted the master bedroom. Can we get busy? ‘Til we dizzy!
- The Dead Heart – Oil, #53 Pop, #11 Rock. While most people were digging on Beds Are Burning, I preferred this minor hit from Oil. Still do. There’s just something about when it switches from a minor key to major key that sounds hopeful even though it’s a protest tune.
- Together Forever – Rick Astley, #1 Pop, #2 AC, #1 Dance. My favorite Astley tune. I first heard this one on the floor of a dance club (Sparks was the club’s name, I think). When I finally saw Astley, I was shocked: the face of Howdy Doody with the voice of Teddy Pendergrass.
- What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy) – Information Society, #3 Pop, #1 Dance, #10 Rock. Another dance tune. So full of hooks you can’t resist. Although I have to admit that what was on my mind that summer wasn’t dancing.
- What’s The Matter Here – 10,000 Maniacs, #80 Pop, #9 Rock. That was the summer I discovered 10,000 Maniacs. This is the lead track from my favorite Maniacs album, In My Tribe.
- Wig – The B-52’s. Not even a single, this is an album cut from the 1986 album, Bouncing Off Satellites. The B from D thought the song was hilarious and would play it for me often. I always enjoyed it even though it’s not a great song (if that makes any sense).
- Wishing Well – Terence Trent D’Arby, #1 Pop, #44 AC, #7 Dance, #1 R&B. Loved the song, bought the cassette, was disappointed in the rest of the album. Was also disappointed in D’Arby’s arrogance. The B from D agreed with me on this one.
Epilogue: After I split with the B from D, my life quickly got back on track. I went to my former girlfriend, hat in hand, and pleaded for a date. To my surprise, she acquiesced and we began seeing each other again, this time for keeps. I proposed the following spring and we were married in August 1989. I abandoned my Virginia plans and began my teaching career in the Dallas area to support my new wife as she finished her physical therapy training. We’ll be happily married 25 years this year. She saved (and continues to save) my life.
Postscript: my last contact with the B from D had been in the fall of 1988 when around 2005, out of the blue, she called me. She wasn’t specific, but I suspect she was either on step 9 of a 12 step program (make direct amends) or had just seen the movie High Fidelity and was calling all her old boyfriends much like the lead character in that book/movie. She apologized for the way she treated me; I accepted the apology then admitted that I had cheated on her and apologized for those actions. And that was that. Haven’t heard from her since and I don’t expect to. But all is well, despite what my bitter writing above might suggest, I hold no grudges.
Other memories from that summer and the B from D can be found on the following posts from The CD Project: